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Popular Culture & Intercultural Communication

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Amy McHugh

on 13 April 2015

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Transcript of Popular Culture & Intercultural Communication

Popular Culture
Popular Culture & Intercultural Communication
Thank you!
Amy McHugh
State University of New York at Oswego
Migrants perception of mainstream culture
Sometimes people use U.S. popular culture to learn about Americans and watch shows about their own culture to affirm their cultural identities.
People who are living outside the U.S. viewing shows about life in the U.S. are more likely to believe the show reflects reality than those who watch while living in the U.S.


Popular culture is a key component in the production of social identities such as class, race, culture, and age where the consumption of pop culture creates and marks social boundaries of inclusion and exclusion.
Four characteristics of pop culture:

(1) produced by culture industries
(who see the products of popular culture as commodities
that can be economically profitable),
(2) it differs from folk culture,
(3) it is everywhere, and
(4) it fills a social function

What phenomenon has led to the spread of popular culture?
How can we learn about cultures
without having personal experience?

Intercultural communication plays a central role in the creation and maintenance of popular culture

To maintain and reshape our identities, we often turn to popular culture.

At times, we seek it out; at other times, we try to avoid certain texts.
Do we all experience the same thing when we consume popular cultural texts?
Magazines and Popular Culture
Can you name some magazines you read frequently? What does that say about who you are? What other kinds of magazines are out there that relate to and target other cultural groups?

We consume those which fulfill important cultural needs and resist those that do not (can read multiples which reflect various cultural configurations)

While representation of minorities in US popular culture has increased, it is still far below the representation of whites.
When minorities - or those from other countries - are shown, they tend to be in stereotypical roles.
US Pop Culture & Power
The largest export in the U.S. is popular culture, and more than 50% of revenue earned by U.S. produced films comes from overseas markets.

While it may not seem like a big deal, this one way flow of pop culture is disseminating core U.S. cultural values such as individualism, personal freedom, and consumerism around the globe.

Italy, Australia, France, South Korea, Spain, Malaysia, etc. have resisted the unregulated flow of pop culture from the U.S.

What have others done:
Culture Jamming
What can you do?
Steps to develop our competence as “readers” or decoders and as producers or encoders of media and pop culture texts.

1. Increased awareness: ask questions about what you are consuming.

2. Informed action: bring a critical reading of these texts to our consciousness.

3. Creative production: redefine ourselves as creators who can and do produce texts.

Stuart Hall's Encoding/Decoding Model
Folk culture has now become sought out by tourists to gain a sense of "authenticity" while traveling...
making it too a commodity which can be bought and sold...
Diasporic Communities
While pop culture exposes us to cultures from around the world, they also serve as a central function for diasporic communities around the world (ex. telenovelas, Bollywood Films).

They allow for migrant communities to stay in touch with, remember, and re-create their cultural identities.
Often overlooked by intercultural communication scholars…

It’s popular culture!

Does it need to win over the majority to be considered popular?

Films, TV, music, books, magazines...

The power of popular culture

What kind of popular culture do you watch/participate in? What countries do those influences come from?
Media and popular culture play central roles in intercultural communication.
• Media and pop culture facilitate communication across cultural and national boundaries escalating the flow of information and images interculturally.

•Media frame global issues and normalize particular cultural ideologies.

•The global spread of mass media and pop culture fragments and disrupts national and cultural identities, leading to resistance, opposition, and conflict.

•Media and pop culture forge hybrid transnational cultural identities in the global context by re-collecting diasporic identities, constructing a global semiculture, and creating intercultural political and social alliances.



It is difficult to avoid popular culture, as it’s been suggested that TV serves as a cultural forum for discussing and working out our ideas on a variety of topics, including those that emerge from the programs themselves
(powerful social function: to serve as a forum for dealing with social issues)

Can you think of TV shows that do this?

Cultural texts are cultural artifacts that convey norms, values, and beliefs.

Many US film, television and music stars are popular outside of the US.
The flow of cultural texts is uneven, most U.S. Americans are rarely exposed to popular culture from outside the US.
The imbalance of cultural texts globally not only renders U.S. Americans more dependent on U.S. produced popular culture but also leads to cultural imperialism.

The pervasiveness of U.S. pop culture and English (especially American English) has led to:

the decline and hybridization of local cultures and languages, threatening cultural and linguistic diversity around the world.

Lack of understanding of other cultures’ perspectives, histories, lifestyles, values, and ideologies is a distinct disadvantage and disturbing danger of this asymmetrical flow.

One-sided view that many people in the U.S. have as a result of consuming only or primarily U.S. media and pop culture can and often does lead to misperceptions, misunderstanding, ignorance, stereotypes, and prejudice about other ethnicities, as well as national cultural groups.
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